Ending “Death, Taxes and Alimony” in Florida?
Never-ending alimony is not merely the stuff of urban legend. Many people know somebody who was ordered by a court to pay alimony for a disproportionate amount of time. Florida is one of the few states in the nation that still sanctions “permanent alimony” — alimony that generally continues until one ex-spouse dies or the recipient remarries.
Recently, Governor Rick Scott vetoed proposed legislation ending permanent alimony, reasoning that this proposal punished lower-earning spouses who sacrificed their career for family’s sake and expected to be provided for in return. The proposed bill would have limited the length of time and amount of alimony received from an ex-spouse. The bill also would have made it more difficult to get alimony after a short-term marriage, specifically preventing payments from lasting longer than half of the marriage’s term.
In some divorces following a long-term marriage, the alimony award may not fairly account for situations where an alimony recipient substantially increases their salary or earned income over time. In some cases, the paying spouse suffers a financial decline. Many paying spouses argue that a court should reduce their alimony to reflect their changed circumstances, or their ex’s circumstances.
Many recipients justly rely on alimony payments to help maintain their financial stability. However, some reformers are wondering if the current system effectively incentivizes some payees to behave like lottery winners enjoying a long payout, with little need to support themselves. This debate is tied to the evolving notions of gender roles. To some, permanent alimony may seem like a patronizing relic from times when courts assumed women could not support themselves. In some instances, members of “Second Wives” clubs are complaining that they are effectively subsidizing their spouses’ ex-wives.
Whatever side of the debate you fall on, you can expect the debate to continue. Contact our experienced Florida divorce lawyer to understand more about alimony modifications in Florida.